Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.

4/30/2004

Spherical PC?

Filed under: Fun,Fun Work,Geek Work,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:25 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Well, that’s what it looks like.

And, that’s what it is! I was going through my old links the other day and found a strange Japanese website that featured a round, green ball that had a mini-itx motherboard in it. (Here’s an English translation of the page) Anyway, it looked totally wild and, well, like something I would like to actually own! With all the talk about casemodding lately, I thought it was an appropriate link.
One of the interesting things, for me, is that this is about two years old. If you look at the link, you’ll see reference to “2002″, which, I assume, is the year. So, I’ve had this link for almost two years before posting it.

Well, Friday is as good as any other day, I guess. Enjoy!

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4/27/2004

Copier Security?

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Geek Work,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:21 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

Well, it’s not as “out-there” as it seems…

Copiers aren’t just copiers anymore. They’re apparently also tools for violating intellectual property law. At least, according to this article on Wired News, that’s what some IP experts and academics think. And, considering how many copier/scanners I have to deal with at work, I can see it. I mean, I know that piracy is a surprisingly big issue in the publishing industry, not to mention all the cheating that seems to go on in High School and college these days.
Oh, I know that there was plenty of plagarism in my day, but it was mainly small-scale stuff. And, there were plenty of term-papers for sale through various channels, but we didn’t really have the Internet to speed things up for us. And, times are changing. I never really, seriously, thought about cheating on a term paper. After all, the whole point of going to college was to learn something. I may not have always understood what the professors were trying to teach me, but I did try to learn.
Anyway, I thought it was interesting that the high-tech copiers are finally becoming a security concern. I’ve suspected for a long time that there would be issues in places like federal law-enforcement offices, but, honestly, it never occured to me that privacy and intellectual property could become such big issues.
If you’re in charge of data security on your network, you might want to read this article and think about your company’s position on scanners and copiers.

4/26/2004

MySQL Scalable!

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Geek Work,Linux,News and Current Events,Novell — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:27 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

This might not seem like much…

But, this could be a really big deal to people tied to Oracle. According to this article on eWeek.com, MySQL is going after the enterprise with a SQL database that is scalable to clusters. Now, if you’re not a database geek, that might not mean much, but, take my word for it, it’s a big deal.
What this means, basically, is that there’s now an Open Source SQL database that could rival Oracle. Databases at a discount. Oh, and Novell licenses MySQL, which they send out with all their product. (Or, at least they did the last time I installed anything.)

4/23/2004

Best Beach

Filed under: Deep Thoughts,Fun — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:14 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

No, this really is what it sounds like.

Want to know where the best beach is? Well, try The Best Beaches in the USA website. They’ve got ‘em all, big and small! They rate more beaches than I knew existed. They have categories for everything from the best beach for walking on to the best beach nightlife. You name it, if it’s a beach rating criteria, they probably have it here. In any case, I doubt I’m going to go to any beach any time soon, so this website might be the closest I get.

Aw, c’mon , it’s Friday! You know you want to go day-dream about visiting a beach, so just go to the site…

4/22/2004

Major TCP Vulnerability

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Geek Work,News and Current Events,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:29 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Of course, I’m sure everyone’s talking about this already, but…

Well, it’s a pretty big deal! So, yesterday morning I read an article on Australian IT about a really big problem with TCP. Now, if you don’t know what TCP is, don’t worry. It won’t effect your job at all. Of course, I’m not sure why you’re reading this blog, but, whatever. Now, for those of you who understand what this means: Stop Panicking!

First of all, if you check the articles that are floating around, it’s not every implementation of TCP that’s effected. On the other hand, if you’re running a router with Border Gateway Protocol, you’d better check on it. That’s one of the biggest nasties here. It makes all sorts of routers vulnerable. That’s thousands of times worse than just hitting a workstation. A firewall can usually block attacks on a workstation, but routers are something else again. After all, most hardware firewalls are really special purpose routers, so… Well, best to check on them. (Frankly, I’ve never been so glad that I’m primarily a server guy!)
As for the rest of it, I’ll hold on for a bit and see what turns up. I’m sure there will be tonnes of Micro$oft service packs and other patches, but until they’re released, there’s not much I can do. Fasten your seatbelts, kids, the ride’s about to get a little bumpy.

4/21/2004

SCO’s not scaring anyone

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Geek Work,Linux,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:29 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

But, is that news?

Well, it was newsworthy enough for Australian IT to do this article on it. It seems there was a survey done and, in general, CIOs aren’t paying much heed to SCO’s claims. In fact, according to the study, which was done in Australia, SCO has generated quite a bit of enmity with their antics. Gee, what a surprise, eh? Anyway, although it doesn’t seem to be all that big a deal anymore, the folks “down under” are going ahead with their plans for Linux roll-outs. And, I have to admit, I don’t hear too many people quaking in their boots here in the States, either. Somehow, I just don’t see any of this saving SCO. I really think their case is going to backfire on them totally.
Well, only time will tell, I guess.

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4/20/2004

Who’s responsible for this?

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Geek Work,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:28 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Me, or my provider?

When a hacker does something to someone on the Internet, who’s responsible? Just the hacker? What about the company that supplied him with bandwidth? Or the company that supplied the computer that he compromised to effect his hack? If you haven’t thought about this, you probably should. This article on Wired News talks about that some. It’s a couple of weeks old, but still quite relevant.
See, it’s like this. The Feds are cracking down on security. Or, at least, they allege they will be soon. In any case, there are a number of bills and suggestions and commissions and whatever else the government uses to get things done floating around out there talking about making executives who’s companies don’t secure their networks liable for the damages done. Neat, huh? Say, are your security patches up to date?

4/19/2004

I’m no Rageboy

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:59 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a New Moon

Though, my wife tells me I could be.

No, really, she once encouraged me to fully explore my Rageboy-ness. Never heard of Rageboy? Oh, I think you have. You probably know him as Christopher Locke, the author of Gonzo Marketing: Winning Through Worst Practices and The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual. But, I’m really trying to not give into the “dark” side and rip into people anymore. Hey! Stop laughing!!

Okay, I have to admit, sometimes I get a little, well, cruel when I’m dealing with idiots. For instance, when the guy from overseas e-mailed me looking for advice on installing a Gauntlet firewall asked me what I meant by “hardening the OS”, I kind of went balistic. I mean, if he doesn’t know that there are steps to take to make Windows 2000 more secure, should he really be installing a firewall? And, what does he think I’m going to do for him? Search TechNet and get only the “good” articles? But, I digress. I’m trying to be a kinder, gentler Network Fascist. (Okay, in actual conversation, I get specific about the kind of alliterative fascism, but why should I risk insulting anyone I haven’t met?) Really, it’s part of the new image that I hope will let me compete with all the fine off-shore outsourcers who don’t know how to spell LDAP, much less what it is.
Besides, Rageboy has nudity on his blog page and I try to be “family friendly”. Sure, it’s Manson Family, but, still…. I do try to put a “nicer” face on disgruntled, soon-to-be-outsourced, under-paid, over-qualified, angry, thirty-something Network Engineers. I mean, I don’t go out of my way to be cruel and nasty. It just happens. Er, “it seemed like the thing to do at the time”?

Well, anyway, I’m happier being the Network Geek, or even the only Novell Certified James Hoffman, than I am being an imitiation Rageboy. And, that’s the story I’m sticking with!

4/16/2004

Bad Design

Filed under: Art,Fun,Geek Work — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:25 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

A scrapbook of bad design.

Okay, so you think your company’s homegrown application is crippled by bad design? Well, check out Bad Human Factors Designs! Here’s a collection of the worst design ever misconcieved. You can’t believe what developers think looks like a good idea.
And, if you are one of those developers, think twice before you inflict that cruel and unusual interface on your users!

Hey, just because it’s Friday, doesn’t mean you can’t learn something!

4/15/2004

Why BestBuy, isn’t

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Personal,Review,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:14 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Either “best” or a “buy”.

I hate BestBuy. Why? Because their sloppy web design cost me several hours of my life. In fact, I’m so irritated with their malfunctioning website that I will not ever buy anything from them again, if I can help it. I would have given up after the first try last night, but my favorite nephew and godson (yes, that means I am a Godfather), said that all he wanted for his birthday, which was yesterday, was a gift card from BestBuy. Though, “WorstSale” is probably a better name for them.
It all started quite simply, as these things usually do, with me going to their cursed website to purchase a simple $25 gift card for my nephew. Sounds simple enough, right? Fifteen minutes worth of transaction and off to bed, I figured. WRONG! After getting through the transaction the first time, I noticed in the side-bar, in small print, something about needed to have pop-up windows enabled to complete the transaction. What? WHY? What sort of crazy e-commerce website would require me to open a potential security hole in my browser just to spend money on their website? And what kind of moron would let that roll out to the public?
So, I check my Account and see that there are no orders. Just to make sure, I do a search on the order number. Nothing. So, I call and verify with the very polite customer service person that my credit card has not, in fact, been charged. She then tells me to go ahead and try it again now that I have pop-ups enabled for their site and it should all be good. Fine. Only, it wasn’t. I tried this three times only to have NONE of the attempts show up. Not even the one I did through the hated Internet Explorer, which I generally don’t use for security reasons.
So, I call Customer Service again, cursing the idiot who thought up this moronic system. The second very polite Customer Service rep confirms again that no charges have gone through to my card and offers to take care of the transaction for me. Okay, great. All done. And, he tells me that I will be e-mailed a confirmation. Wonderful.
This morning when I check my e-mail, guess what I found? FOUR confirmations, each for a $25 gift card. All of which were processed at around 1:00AM, which was more than TWO HOURS after I was done on the phone with BestBuy’s Customer Service. So, I get to waste even MORE time trying to ge this straightened out today.

I have never, ever in more than ten years of on-line purchasing had a worse experience than I did with the BestBuy website. I have bought from little “mom-and-pop” stores and even game companies from the United Kingdom and never had problems like I’ve had with BestBuy. Gee, aren’t they supposed to be a technology company? Don’t they sell high-tech gear? You sure wouldn’t know it from their non-functional website!
So, what has all this taught me? Don’t ever use BestBuy again. In fact, I’m going to tell everyone I know about this experience and encourage them not to use BestBuy, either. If you live in Houston, I recommend that you try MicroCenter or Fry’s. If you want to get something from the internet try CDW. Personally, I will go to extreme lengths now to avoid spending even one more cent inside a BestBuy. All because one stupid web development team couldn’t get their shit together. (Crap, I almost made it through that entire rant without making any excretory remarks. Oh, well, shit happens.)

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